Widow Of Murder Victim Commits Suicide In Texas

patti2In an unbelievably tragic story, the widow of a slain runner in Texas has committed suicide. Patti Stevens, 54, a physical therapist, was found dead of suspected suicide at her home in Sunnyvale after her husband, Dave, was slain by Thomas Linze Johnson, 21, a mentally ill former Texas A&M football player. The case is likely to raise serious mental capacity questions for Johnson who is reportedly schizophrenic as well as questions of whether the impact on Stevens (and her suicide) should be considered in any sentencing.

Stevens, 53, often ran 10 miles around White Rock Lake before heading to his electrical engineering job at GE in Plano. He was hacked to death with a machete around 8 am. Johnson reportedly confessed to the killing. Thomas-Johnson-239x300Patti’s suicide came just a week after the murder. She expressed her profound lost at the time: “Dave was the love of my life and I’m lost without him . . . People need to know that this was a wonderful person going out and doing what he loved to do.”

With the history of mental illness (and the gruesome character of the attack), Johnson has an obvious mental illness defense. However, assuming that he is found sufficiently sane, should the suicide be considered as an aggravator in the sentencing? After all, Patti would have normally given a victim’s statement on her loss. That loss proved too much for her to bear. The obvious nexus between the murder and her suicide would seem a legitimate ground for aggravating a sentence. The defense is likely to argue, however, that her independent action should not be attributed to him, at least in the form of a higher sentence.

What do you think?


Source: Dallas News

30 thoughts on “Widow Of Murder Victim Commits Suicide In Texas”

  1. Is the suggestion being made here that if my ego is more resilient than her’s that the sentence should then be lighter? The crime itself is what requires punishment. If her family wanted to pursue a civil suit that’s different, but to increase his punishment based on her reactions seems baseless.

  2. KC and Nick:

    It’s very true that our mental health system now makes it so difficult to institutionalize someone against their will that they have to harm someone first. I’ve mentioned before that woman who drove around with swords in her car to fight the “demons.” Or my co-worker’s schizophrenic cousin who had made death threats against the father.

    It needs an overhaul. It’s not fair to the victims and it’s not fair to the mentally ill themselves. Their actions cry out for help beforehand, with red flags that are not actionable.

    My heart goes out to this couple’s families. Heartbreaking. I suppose her suicide can be considered “witness impact statement – maximum” at sentencing.

    Is schizophrenia not considered a sufficient mental illness defense? Can someone with schizophrenia, who knows right from wrong, still choose right from wrong if his decision center is so impacted?

  3. It has been published that most people have some degree of mental illness.

    Read the text of the Christian/Newsom murders and see if A SANE PERSON could have committed them.

    “Channon Gail Christian, 21, and Hugh Christopher Newsom, Jr., 23, were an unmarried couple from Knoxville, Tennessee. They were kidnapped the evening of January 6, 2007 when Christian’s vehicle was carjacked, and taken to a rental house, where they were raped, tortured, and murdered. Five people were arrested and charged in the case. The grand jury indicted four of the suspects on counts of capital murder, robbery, kidnapping, rape, and theft, while a fifth was indicted on federal charges of carjacking.

    Of the four charged at the state level, three (Letalvis D. Cobbins, Lemaricus Davidson, and George Thomas) had multiple prior felony convictions. After a jury trial, Lemaricus Davidson was convicted and sentenced to death by lethal injection. Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas were convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Vanessa Coleman was convicted and sentenced to 53 years in prison for facilitating the crimes, and Eric Dewayne Boyd was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in federal prison for being an accessory after the fact to carjacking.”

  4. (music)
    Wacko! Call em Wacko!
    What kind of people call him Wacko?
    Fat kids, skinny kids, kids who climb on rocks.
    Lame dwibs, active scribs,
    Even kids with chicken pox…
    Say Wacko. He’s a Wacko.
    The hog kids like… to Bite!

  5. KCF, There was a case here in Wisconsin a few years ago. A crazy young man was wreaking havoc w/ his family and the community near Milwaukee where they lived. There is documented evidence that the parents tried EVERYTHING to get the son committed. On a sunny, chilly day, this crazy son stripped naked and entered to house of a rural family, killing the husband and wife. These stories abound.

  6. “Johnson’s father, Robert Johnson, said Monday that he was devastated by Patti’s death.

    “If I could turn back the hands of time, I would,” he said. “The voices that are in my son’s head have created a problem that I can’t even imagine.”

    He said his son’s schizophrenia, which suddenly emerged in the past few years, turned him into a different person from “the most peaceful, most loving kid” he used to know. He called his son’s mental illness “worse than cancer.””

    We have a problem in this country that began with deinstitutionalization in the 1970s.
    Our current approach is to house them in prison after they hurt or kill someone.
    So terribly cruel for everyone involved.

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